James Dodds - Shipshape

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Time and Time Museum, Yarmouth


> Time and Time Museum, Yarmouth

James Dodds' pictures have strength and character, a sense of form that is alive with the love of detail. “Shipshape” is just the right title for a fine exhibition of his work in the Time & Tide Museum that has added a splendid dimension to the attractions of Yarmouth.

Dodds is not a pier-head artist, content just to look on vessels as they placidly sail by in the distance.

A trained shipwright, he likes to get close and show every detail of construction in wood, the form shaped by the demands of sea worthiness and hallowed by tradition.

So he shows the transom and the rudder, the sheer of the hull and the complex curves of the futtocks.

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Recording the restoration of Pioneer, a mid-Victorian smack, has been an inspiration as the bare skeleton of timbers gradually blossoms into the beauty of a ketch with all her canvas set in the breeze. Tempted away from his habitual black and white interpretations, Dodds sometimes adds golden ochre or else a rich dark red in patches of dark colour that bring out patterns behind.

Taking a rather different angle, he also presents a series of views of east- coast towns. He sees them from the sea, generally enclosing a mass of detail in a grand circular pattern.

A few human figures help add scale, especially in the records of shipyards. They appear busy places but old fashioned and, as the captions make clear, without a lot of future to look forward to.

The nostalgia is one part of Dodds charm. Another is his joy in craftsmanship and in the variety of forms that men have developed for their working boats.

t The exhibition runs until April 17.

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